Mourn on the Fourth of July: Inside the Christian anti-patriot movement
Mark Van Steenwyk leads his Mennonite Worker Community in Minneapolis.
July 5th, 2013
05:40 PM ET

Mourn on the Fourth of July: Inside the Christian anti-patriot movement

By David R. Wheeler, special to CNN

(CNN) - Like many congregations, The Mennonite Worker Community of Minneapolis held a worship service and picnic this Fourth of July - but instead of extolling the virtues of America, they called attention to its faults.

The annual service is “a sort of anti-patriotic holiday,” says Mark Van Steenwyk, whose community focuses on simplicity, prayer and peacemaking. Singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” is out. Reflecting on the contradictions between the gospel and the American Dream are in.

“We thank you, O God, for the good things we enjoy in our lives," reads a prayer the Mennonite community recites each year, "but lament that our abundance has brought destitution to sisters and brothers throughout the Earth.”

Anti-patriots like Van Steenwyk say their movement, which has grown more vocal in recent years, is simply an honest way to read – and live out – Jesus' teachings on nonviolence. But it's hard to look at groups like The Mennonite Community and not see an implicit criticism of God-and-country cheerleading by mainstream Christians and ripples of centuries-old church-state tensions.

Some anti-patriots come from pacifist Anabaptist traditions, such as the Mennonite Church. Others come from evangelical backgrounds but have rejected their counterparts' often unreserved patriotism and embraced liberal-leaning communities like Red Letter Christians and JesusRadicals.com.

They may differ on theological details, but they hold at least one belief in common: You cannot serve both God and country.

A Suspicion of the State

Anabaptists such as Mennonites and the Amish were persecuted by state churches in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries, and their descendants bear a lasting suspicion of human authorities.

Many an Amish and Mennonite home keeps a copy of "The Martyr's Mirror," a book thick with testimonies of Anabaptists burned at the stake of orthodoxy. The book's subtitle refers to the martys as "defenseless Christians," a nod to Anabaptists' belief that when Jesus called on Christians to turn the other cheek, he was quite serious.

For that reason, Anabaptists historically do not participate in warfare — or celebrate military victories.

American Anabaptists have been fined or jailed for their pacifist beliefs during wartime. Four Hutterites died from harsh treatment while imprisoned as conscientious objectors during World War I, Bach says. Anabaptists didn’t receive official permission to perform alternative service until World War II.

READ MORE: Bolivia’s isolated Mennonite community

“Some members of Anabaptist groups today are more acculturated and celebrate patriotic holidays just like the rest of the nation,” says Jeff Bach, director of Elizabethtown College's Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies. “None of the Anabaptist groups are anti-American. They are typically grateful for the religious freedom permitted in the United States.”

Still, in 2011, Goshen College, a Mennonite school in Indiana, banned the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at sporting events because, according to the college’s president, the lyrics were too violent.

Serving `the King' 

It may be difficult for some Americans to understand why their countrymen would disassociate themselves from patriotism. What’s the harm in celebrating Independence Day, anyway?

But nonpatriotic Christians believe the burden of proof should fall on the other side: Why should peace-loving believers celebrate a bloody revolution? And American history after 1776 isn’t exactly pacifistic either, Van Steenwyk says.

“It is easy to judge Islam for the actions of a relative few militants. Yet when millions of Americans — a vast majority of them claiming the Christian faith — were complicit with slavery, indigenous genocide, and continued economic exploitation, we suddenly see them as separate from our faith,” says Van Steenwyk.

Jesus called his followers to Christian service and humility, which are the opposite of nationalistic rituals performed on the Fourth of July, says David Swartz, author of “Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism.”

“A heightened devotion to the nation can cause a lot of confusion abroad when people see claims of a Christian America alongside a long American history of slavery, economic inequality and overheated Hollywood sexuality and violence,” says Swartz.

Kurt Willems, who runs the progressive Christian blog Pangea, has also joined the rising nonpatriotic chorus. The Anabaptist from Seattle writes an annual post explaining why he no longer celebrates Independence Day.

“Each year I receive comments about how I should leave this country if I ‘hate’ it so much,” he says. “I love Americans, but I’m not willing to compromise my values as a servant of my only King, the nonviolent revolutionary — Jesus.”

Making Toby Keith Proud

Many Christians trace the latest wave of evangelical interest in pacifism to author and activist Shane Claiborne, who worked with Mother Teresa in the slums of Calcutta, ministered to Iraqis during the war in Iraq and now leads a Philadelphia community called The Simple Way.

“My philosophy on patriotic things would be: A love for the people of our country is not a bad thing, but why should love stop at the border?” says Claiborne.

There have been some nonpatriotic gatherings in major cities, such as the Los Angeles Catholic Worker’s “Mourn on the Fourth of July” peace march in 2008.

Still the nonpatriot movement remains small, and finding local communities can be challenging, Van Steenwyk says.

“Everyone knows that other folks think like them, but it isn’t like there are a lot of congregations that self-identify as being nonpatriotic.”

That’s especially true for evangelicals, who lead the country in patriotic fervor.

More than 80% of white evangelicals believe that God has granted the United States a "special role" in history, according to a survey released June 27 by the Public Religion Research Institute.

In a stat that would make Toby Keith proud, more than two-thirds of white evangelicals say they are "very proud" to be an American, outstripping every other religious group polled.

So it's not surprising that some conservative Christians find the nonpatriotic alliance of progressive evangelicals and Anabaptists troubling — even dangerous.

“All Christians everywhere are called to love and serve their nations,” says Mark Tooley, a president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy and a United Methodist.

READ MORE: Celebrating the Fourth of July

“The stance of some evangelical elites influenced by neo-Anabaptist beliefs is often one of ingratitude, and whining, while ignoring the teaching of the universal Church, which has always recognized the God-ordained vocation of the state, and the Christian’s calling to serve as responsible citizens,” he says.

Tooley also disagrees with the nonpatriotic Christians on about military force, which he says is required to maintain order worldwide. Nonpatriot Christians are naïve not to consider the ill effects should the United States abdicate military power, he says

“What would the alternatives be if the USA didn’t exist or withdrew from the world stage? Almost certainly a more dangerous, more anarchic, more repressive, less prosperous world with less opportunity for the poor to escape poverty,” Tooley argues.

No Middle Ground? 

Some patriotic pastors argue for a middle way: honoring America without succumbing to chauvinism or ignoring the country's wrongs.

“Do I agree with every major policy of our government? No way,” says Kyle Vanover, pastor of Cyrus Chapel United Methodist Church in Catlettsburg, Kentucky. “But I’m proud to be an American, and I believe God has truly blessed this land.”

Van Steenwyk, however, says there is no middle ground.

Jesus’ identification with the poor, love of enemies, and refusal to take power are incompatible with the “entire political and economic system” of the United States, he says.

“Let’s face it — the Sermon on the Mount makes for lousy foreign or public policy. We can’t have it both ways.”

David R. Wheeler is a journalism professor and freelance writer living in Lexington, Kentucky. You can follow him on Twitter at: @David_R_Wheeler

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Amish • Belief • Christianity • Church • Church and state • Faith • Foreign policy • Mennonite • Military • Politics

soundoff (1,599 Responses)
  1. sandalista

    Is god willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him god?

    July 8, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • lol??


      "2Th 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [will let], until he be taken out of the way."

      July 8, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Faith-Isn't-a-Preacher

      So you want a Deity that dictates your probation and everyone else's here on earth?
      If so, that is Lucifer's plan.
      Christ Plan is to allow us to make our own choices, repent for bad ones, be our advocated for mistakes we can't fix, and be better for it.
      Children don't learn to be adults when Nannie is directing everything around them.

      Looking to someone else to do or impose what's right is a lazy and pathetic.

      July 8, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Epicurus taught the maximization of pleasure

      Peggy Lee asked "Is that all there is?"

      July 8, 2013 at 9:56 am |
  2. Austin

    John's Gospel is of questionable historic value.

    The Holy Spirit is responsible for delivering the truth of God's word. The seal of salvation is through the supernatural faithfulness of the Holy Spirit. Can you obtain it by merit, no? so if you don't have it do you KNOW truth?

    no if the Holy spirit is there and you do not have this mediator, you do not know. and you speculate about John?

    this is bold and wicked.

    July 8, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • richunix

      Your referring to the Johannine Comma (1 John 5:7-8)

      July 8, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • tallulah13

      People who deal in fact and reality can indeed dispute the veracity of ancient writings. After all, the bible was not written in a vacuum. It was written in a world where amazing events were recorded and commented on. None of the miraculous events surrounding the life and death of Christ exist anywhere but in the bible, and indeed were not even written until generations after the events allegedly occurred - and even then by unknown authors.

      You claim that "The Holy Spirit is responsible for delivering the truth of God's word" but of course there isn't an ounce of proof that your "holy spirit" actually exists. Your claim is nothing more than a weak attempt to legitimize the outlandish claims of a document of dubious origins.

      July 8, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • richunix

      Which amongst historical scholars of the new testament has been known to be pseudepigraphal writing appearing nearly 3 century later.

      July 8, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  3. Austin

    stephen douglas
    Agree with the weapons industry.

    Worse, however, is that it costs the taxpayers in that the politicians obligate us to supplying foreign countries with "military aid", which is a way of stealing taxpayer dollars. They channel them through legitimate expenditures in the form of arms purchases and the money ultimately ends up in the pockets of the industrialists as profits – who kick back some of it in the form of campaign contributions to the politicians who support the spending for arms and aid.

    It is in fact the worlds' largest money laundering scam.

    are you talking about america?

    July 8, 2013 at 9:37 am |
  4. Emmett O'Riley

    Re; Arthur Bryant

    Great barbeque

    July 8, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  5. Aezellll

    The majority of Christians wish they could put their delusional 2000 year old fairy tale over the cons†itution and turn this country into a theocracy. Why would anyone be surprised at a church like this anymore?

    July 8, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Good morning Aezellll,

      The Christian majorities are masses of people who have little understandings regarding all governing idiosyncrasies. The are more emotional beings then the intellectual brands and it is with much fanfare that politicians know this to be true.

      July 8, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Austin

      I experienced the supernatural revelation of the Holy Spirit. God gives faith to those who seek HIm.

      John 15:26-27 (New International Version)

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      John 15:26-27
      New International Version (NIV)
      The Work of the Holy Spirit

      26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

      July 8, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • Lionly Lamb

      They are more emotional (my bad)

      July 8, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • Reality

      John's Gospel is of questionable historic value.

      To wit:

      From Professor Bruce Chilton in his book, Rabbi Jesus,

      "Conventionally, scholarship has accorded priority to the first three gospels in historical work on Jesus, putting progressively less credence in works of late date. John's Gospel for example is routinely dismissed as a source......

      From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_John#Authorship

      "Since "the higher criticism" of the 19th century, some historians have largely rejected the gospel of John as a reliable source of information about the historical Jesus.[3][4] "[M]ost commentators regard the work as anonymous,"[5] and date it to 90-100."

      "The authorship has been disputed since at least the second century, with mainstream Christianity believing that the author is John the Apostle, son of Zebedee. Modern experts usually consider the author to be an unknown non-eyewitness, though many apologetic Christian scholars still hold to the conservative Johannine view that ascribes authorship to John the Apostle."

      And from Professor Gerd Ludemann, in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 416,

      "Anyone looking for the historical Jesus will not find him in the Gospel of John. "
      See also http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/john.html

      July 8, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • Austin

      Lionly Lamb, radical islaam is now another point of comparison and excuse for people to shrug off the cross. also the topic at hand, the emotional domesticated church. How can we deliver the seed, we rely and hope in the Holy Spirit.

      what an evil time.

      July 8, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • Austin

      2 Corinthians 4:6

      6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

      July 8, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • lol??

      wiki, ludemann,

      "....Although the call for his dismissal was rejected by the state government of Lower Saxony, the members of the faculty, under pressure from the Church, complained to the University President that Professor Lüdemann had "fundamentally put in question the intrinsic soundness of Protestant theology at the University". As a result the Chair of New Testament was renamed the Chair of History and Literature of Early Christianity, his research funding was cut and his teaching was no longer part of the curriculum........."

      Gubmint infiltrator that went too far??

      July 8, 2013 at 9:47 am |
  6. lnn

    Can we one day just abolish religion all together? The world would be so much more peaceful without all the conflicting, hate-generating fairy tales. ENOUGH. Why put so much energy and discussion into something that's basically just "made up" by man? What a waste. People need to simply accept reality and not be ruled by fear. We're all going to die. Whether or not we go someplace else or not is UNKNOWN by any human being. Period. Stop the bickering, bloodshed, and judgments over all the particulars. Enjoy life and be nice. It could be so much simpler than it is.

    July 8, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • lol??

      Wegodians have such fantasies.

      July 8, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Lionly Lamb

      lnn wrote, "Can we one day just abolish religion all together?"

      If this world's people are to make it into the 22nd century, religions are a needed evil in order to give the paupers masses reasons for wanton living despite their being at the bottoms of all socialized ladders with no ways in understanding how to climb them.

      July 8, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      To abolish something that is based on thoughts, beliefs and ideas, along with the right to free association with like-minded people, would require that our society and the state invade people's lives in unacceptable ways. Also, it most likely would not work considering the behaviour of religions under pressure in other times and other places. Education is the best hope for reducing the power of religion in our society.

      July 8, 2013 at 10:04 am |
  7. lol??

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Matriots kill their OWN babies. No wonder they teach the woeman that she owns those little pieces of living material....

    July 8, 2013 at 9:14 am |
  8. lol??

    Patriarchy precedes patriotism. Socialists with their squishy concepts of right and wrong need not apply.

    July 8, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • Austin

      really good point.

      July 8, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  9. stephen douglas

    Why should peace-loving believers celebrate a bloody revolution?.......Um, maybe because without it you would not be holding your celebration today and your people would still be persecuted......

    July 8, 2013 at 8:53 am |
  10. Doc Vestibule

    The U.S.A. is a nation founded by the self-righteous. Though the term most often used in conjunction with the frontier settlers is "pilgrim", the proper term is "puritan". Those ships that landed at Plymouth Rock carried a tribe of people disillusioned with what they saw as the moral degeneration of their homeland. Convinced of their righteousness and confident in their role as God's messengers, they sought to impose their will on a new land and it's peoples under the guise of bringing elightenment. The mentality was hardly new, being the same Augustinian conceit of “Cognite Intrare” that helped fuel the crusades, inquisition and myriad other brutalities. Holding an entire race of people at musket point and condeming their cultures from a fiery pulpit, the arrogant, confrontational and technologically superior invaders saw no hypocrisy in killing those who refused conversion.
    This type of “convert or die” Christianity still exists in some parts of the world, as exemplified by groups like The National Liberation Front of Tripura who are known to forcibly convert Hindus.
    Once those pesky pagans had been both diminished in numbers and relocated, America lapsed into a century and a half of insular navel gazing. Ignoring international politics, the nation's methods of rationalization became widely accepted and formalized. While paying lip service to the lofty ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Const.itution, the pervasive mentality was obviously contrary to the "self evident truth that all men are created equal". White, Christian land owners may have been equals in at least an abstract, moralistic context but a slave based economy can hardly be considered egalitarian. The eventual abolition of slavery in a legal sense did very little to help the former slaves. Though denied the right to whip them thar ne.groes with impunity, the social elite were firmly established, milky white, “God fearing” and totally unwilling to alter the status quo in any meaningful way. No one save for the Mayflower descendents could realistically aspire to affluence or power. Some argue that this dichotomy still exists.
    Unlike Europe, and indeed most of the rest of the globe, the states gained much more than they lost due to their involvement in the war. It cannot be denied that it was their eventual involvement that resulted in the comparatively quick resolution, but so bloody what?
    The morale of the populace at large never had a chance to degrade. Though many soldiers died in combat, it was more abstract to those on the home front. With no worry of invasion, aerial bombings, or indeed any credible threat to the home front and it’s manufacturing capabilities , it was possible for the yanks to adjust their industrial infrastructure with relative impunity.
    The dismal years of the Great Depression, still fresh in the memories of many citizens, made people realize how tenuous their economic system could be. The country needed new industry to reinvigorate the economy and, at the time, that industry was weapons manufacturing.
    The war proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that given the proper incentive, the American people could be astoundingly productive. In just a few short years, America became a self professed military Super Power. With no need to rebuild the larger social structure after the war, the money that everyone else had to spend just to get back to a decent standard of living was freely dispensed to increase arms production, perpetuating the cycle of prosperity.
    Defense spending started to rise and has done nothing but ever since, as has (by and large) the standard of living in America.
    Unfortunately, prosperity in a weapons based economy is obviously contingent on having a market for those arms. Sometimes, a doc/ument like PNAC (Project for a New American Century) comes to light and the world sees exactly how politics of empire and playing out and the details of the quest to spread the "Pax Americana" are laid bare – but all too quickly ignored and forgotten.

    July 8, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • Austin

      ya i suppose so, and this is bad. now go back through the new testament and and old testament and read the stories about what God's people were doing. go back to the people and moses, how they would turn from God..

      you cant take the sins of time, and disqualify God. we are dealing with sin that leads to death. all of God's people in mass are pitiful.

      when are you going to understand evil for evil , disguised or not, this is the manifestation of death is satanic.

      July 8, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • stephen douglas

      Agree with the weapons industry.

      Worse, however, is that it costs the taxpayers in that the politicians obligate us to supplying foreign countries with "military aid", which is a way of stealing taxpayer dollars. They channel them through legitimate expenditures in the form of arms purchases and the money ultimately ends up in the pockets of the industrialists as profits – who kick back some of it in the form of campaign contributions to the politicians who support the spending for arms and aid.

      It is in fact the worlds' largest money laundering scam.

      July 8, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • lol??

      Contest away,


      "............'Tribe' is a contested term due to its roots in colonialism. The word has no shared referant, whether in political form, kinship relations, or shared culture. It conveys a negative connotation of a timeless unchanging past. [1][2][3][4] To avoid these implications, some have chosen to use the terms 'ethnic group', or nation instead.[1][2][3][4].............."

      July 8, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Lionly Lamb

      And a good morning to you stephen douglas,

      I see your points. Speaking of laundering: how about the laundering of human bodies as in the war on drugs racket? Where does all the monies from drug busts get headed towards not to mention the potential for reselling the confiscated homes and autos and whatnots the police receive? Even the bogus lottery scams which were first brought about via telling the general public it would benefit our children's schooling. One vile scam after another.

      July 8, 2013 at 9:51 am |
  11. syzito

    Mother Theresa admitted that she had become an atheist in her letters. She died an atheist. Naive people following a myth and living in fantasy land. Mental illness never looked clearer.

    July 8, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • Saraswati

      While I believe many to think they feel god's presence, we learn over and over from many more about how long they lived a lie like Mother Theresa did. So many pretend to their church, their family, their friends and even themselves that they feel something that they do not. For some religion may offer comfort, but the millions who can't swallow the story and conjure upthe necessary sensation, they should know that a happier life is possible when you just stop trying.

      July 8, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • lol??

      Why didn't she have a hubby to keep her on the straight and narrow??

      July 8, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • midwest rail

      " Why didn't she have a hubby to keep her on the straight and narrow?? "
      She realized that people like you were options, and dismissed the idea outright.

      July 8, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Mark Gordon

      Mother Teresa didn't die an atheist. She wrote that she had experienced decades during which she didn't feel God's presence. But still she believed, and she died in that belief. Lying doesn't help your cause. It only cheapens it.

      July 8, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      If Blessed Mother Theresa and Dietrich Bonhoeffer were atheists, we could use a few more like them.

      July 8, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • Saraswati

      Mark, Could you provide a source for your claim that Mother Theresa died a believer? I have never seen such evidence but only letters that indicate she had serious doubts and had given up prayer right to the end.

      July 8, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
  12. jackieg

    Didn't Thomas Jefferson say that to dissent is patriotic.

    July 8, 2013 at 8:52 am |
  13. NightOps

    I'm confused...how is this anti-patriotism/anti-patriotic? I don't see anywhere that these goofballs are protesting the war or celebrating the death of troops (like those whack jobs at the Westboro Baptist Church). I don't see anything "anti" about this group... Since when do we start labeling individuals and groups as "anti" just because they don't agree with everything we say? What sort of pompous jack@$$ at CNN believes they are all "high and mighty" to declare such foolishness? Is Mr. Wheeler really such an individual? I certainly hope not.

    Wasn't the purpose of the American Revolutionary War and the signing of the Declaration of Independence purely for the purpose of allowing citizens to freely and openly participate in whatever religion they desire, so long as it doesn't prevent another person from doing so as well? Of course it was. Let's stop being ridiculous about this.

    July 8, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • Saraswati

      "anti-patriotic" is from a direct quote of one of the organizers in the article.

      July 8, 2013 at 8:49 am |
    • D cashen

      can you say "jerimiah wright"?

      July 8, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'Wasn't the purpose of the American Revolutionary War and the signing of the Declaration of Independence purely for the purpose of allowing citizens to freely and openly participate in whatever religion they desire, so long as it doesn't prevent another person from doing so as well?'

      purely for the purpose? er, no, no it wasnt.

      July 8, 2013 at 9:37 am |
  14. Saraswati

    Pacifism is a fantastic ideal. But it gets down to the old question: If a man stood before you seconds away from killing 30 school children (he'd already killed 30 others) and you had a gun in your hand to stop him, would you?

    If you would not, I consider you no better than a murderer yourself. If you would, we are simply debating tactics everywhere else.

    July 8, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • lol??

      Gen 14:14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained [servants], born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued [them] unto Dan.

      July 8, 2013 at 9:11 am |
  15. Animal

    The right to worship (or not) as you see fit, isn't free. It never has been or will be. It was won after hard fought wars by aggressors that sought to deprive us of that right and many others. So if you are a pacifist, that's ok, that's a right in of itself. Just don't blame the rest of us for how we had to make sure that your right to be a pacifist is maintained.

    July 8, 2013 at 8:38 am |
  16. devin

    From the beginning, Christians have found themselves living under regimes that have been both oppressive and tolerant of their belief system. While this has relevance to their comfort of day to day living, it has no bearing on their faith. If the U.S continues traveling down the path to secularism, while it may be regrettable for those of us who are Chrisitans, it will never the less be incidental to our faith.

    July 8, 2013 at 8:36 am |
    • Third Eagle of the Apocalypse

      Umm.. you do realize that America was FOUNDED on secularism right? This myth that Christians are putting out there about the U.S. being founded on their faith is at best ignorance and at worst an intentional rewrite of history.

      July 8, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • Erlo


      July 8, 2013 at 8:49 am |
    • NightOps

      @Third Eagle of the Apocalypse:
      Very few of the Founding Fathers were *not* practicing Christians. Those that weren't still recognized in either a) a deity, or b) the possibility of a deity existing (Agnostic, not Atheist). This is repeatedly recognized by personal works - particularly personal diaries –, as well as 2nd-hand accounts from people that lived and breathed with our Founding Fathers. It is as pointless to argue this as much as it is illogical to dispute the Holocaust or Neil Armstrong landing on the moon. Those that choose to are simply conspiracy theorists or are seeking to incite debate that bears no fruit.

      Regardless, all of the Founding Father's recognized the importance of allowing individuals to choose their religion/lack thereof, and was a principal reason for the venture to the Americas.

      July 8, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • devin

      Third Eagle

      Scroll down to my reply to Rev Rick and you will see that you are putting words in my mouth. I neither mentioned or alluded to anything you inferred.

      July 8, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • um

      um from the start christians murdered non christians and tried to "SAVE" all non believers

      July 8, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'From the beginning, Christians have found themselves living under regimes that have been both oppressive and tolerant of their belief system. '

      That should read 'In the beginning' because as soon as christianity became the major faith in a nation, the shoe was on the other foot.

      July 8, 2013 at 9:40 am |
  17. Zebediah

    "Jesus’ identification with the poor, love of enemies, and refusal to take power are incompatible with the “entire political and economic system” of the United States, he says. “Let’s face it — the Sermon on the Mount makes for lousy foreign or public policy. We can’t have it both ways.”

    True...Dilemmas, quandaries, and enigmas are called mysteries in the Gospels. BE in the world, but not of the world. Be a participating citizen of a democracy, yet give first allegiance to the Kingdom of God. He says 'we can't have it both ways'. Right, but God can....a test of our faith..how to live righteously in an insane world, where no good choice may be available....and keep up your faith and optimism...Good Luck.

    July 8, 2013 at 8:35 am |
  18. Rainer Braendlein

    The meaning of 666

    In order to understand the issue, we must first get to know the difference between the Roman Empire (27 B. C. to 476 a. D.) and the Holy Roman Empire (800 a. D. to 1806 a. D.). Although the names of the two Empires sound very similar, they are two totally different things. The Roman Empire knew no mixture of state and Church. Merely, beginning with emperor Constantine, the Church got gradually protected by the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire declined in 476 a. D.. Papacy was established 607 a. D.. In the course of time the power of the popes increased and thus 800 a. D. the Frankish king Charles the Great was crowned emperor by the pope. By this coronation the Roman Empire resurrected and was now called Holy Roman Empire. The Center of the Holy Roman Empire was not Italy, but Germany. Hence, the Roman Empire or Holy Roman Empire is the Beast (including it’s head, the Wicked or Arch-Blasphemer) of Revelation, Chapter 17.

    Why do we call the Middle Ages dark age sometimes?

    What made life so unpleasant during the dark age?

    There are two reasons: The impact of the pope and the impact of the Muslims (the Muslim Arabs (Saracens) and the Muslim Turks).

    Here, I will focus on the influence of wicked papacy:

    After Gregory the Great (the last good pope, lifetime 540-604 a. D.) the wicked papacy was established by the criminal emperor Phocas (emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, reign 602-610 a. D.). Phocas made the Roman See the highest on earth, which was a crime, because God refuses a visible head of the whole Church. Jesus Christ shall be the head of the whole Church.

    After wicked (papacy is wicked, because God doesn’t want any See to be the highest one on earth) papacy was established, the papal office corrupted more and more in the course of time. After a while the popes not only presumed to be the bishops of all bishops, but they even claimed to be higher than the emperor or any king. This development peaked in the papal docu-ment Dictatus Papae (by Pope Gregory VII, lifetime 1020-1085), which declared that the pope was higher than the emperor. According to the demands of the docu-ment Dictatus Papae, Gregory VII indeed deposed emperor Henry IV (emperor of the Holy Roman Empire) at a Lenten synod on February 14, 1076 a. D..

    From 1076 onward the Roman-German emperors (emperors of the Holy Roman Empire) were subordinated to the pope.

    Now hang on to your hat: For 666 years the Pope was the Super-Emperor of the whole world up to 1742 a. D., when the Holy Roman Empire (center: Germany) got an secular emperor again (Emperor Karl VII, who got crowned emperor on February 12, 1742 a. D.) One of the darkest periods of history lasted 666 years. Seemingly this number 666 is identic to the Number of the Beast 666, which is mentioned in the Revelation.

    Free Churches should stop to mind about the meaning of 666.

    From 1076 to 1742 a beast ruled the world. 666 years long the world was tortured by a beast.

    God prevent us from a further papal rule. It is yet enough that he rules his club of predators (child abuse).

    Censored News Network, please don't censore this comment. Thank you.

    July 8, 2013 at 8:34 am |
  19. Bobby

    Simply, I love this article and the people who live out their faith–even when that means the majority is traumatized.

    July 8, 2013 at 8:31 am |
  20. Zebediah

    Liberal Christians deny the moral standards required by the gospel..in quest for their idealized version of a hippy Jesus, rather than the Revelation Christ leading His followers in a battle to take care of SATAN, once and for all. However, the Truth is that the current political and economic system is incompatible with Christianity. Look at any set of statistics..workers and the average person is much worse off now than 40 years ago. Both political parties are collusive in their support of the World Oligarchs. The message is shrouded with phrases such as Free Trade, New World Order etc. But the faces are clear: a small group of very powerful, bankers and politicians control the very basis of economic existence on this planet. People are expendable to profit and global ambitions. Machines and technology have not improved economic conditions for the average person. Basic needs are much more expensive now than before. Monopolies and Cartels manipulate commodity prices including food and housing. Governments have stopped trying to regulate these practices. Much of the Bible cries out about the injustices against the poor and emphasizes the need for righteousness and justice....How to carry out this message in a depraved and moribund economic society is the big problem. Controversy will continue until Jesus returns.

    July 8, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • Saraswati

      Global life expectancy has risen from 52 to 69 years since 1960. I'd say that's a heck of a lot of people with better lives.

      July 8, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      You're certainly not the first to draw attention to Christ's role as a fighter and not a namby-pamby pacifist.
      In the early 20th century, a man who became famous for his oratory uttered this:
      ""My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter...was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. ...Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed his blood upon the Cross."
      – Adolf Hitler, speech on April 12, 1922

      July 8, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • noone

      OK, I'm with you on the whole, World Oligarchs controlling everything, free trade is bad, etc. But seriously, you're waiting for some dude who died almost 2000 years ago (if he even existed in the first place) to come back and lead his followers in a battle against, let me get this right...Satan? As in that guy with hooves and horns? Really? Holy ****!

      July 8, 2013 at 9:54 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.